I Choose Freedom have been working alongside Surrey Police and other professionals to help tackle some of the issues faced by victims of domestic abuse who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF). These victims are unable to get benefits and may have unstable immigration here in the UK. We are aware that these survivors face so many additional barriers to accessing support because they are afraid that they may be in trouble with our police and legal system. The abuse perpetrated against them leads to them feeling isolated, trapped and unable to reach out for help. They live with threats such as they will be deported or have their children removed and other controlling tools.
We spoke with 12 survivors in our refuges who bravely shared their experiences of immigration abuse to help raise awareness of the need to make changes to current legislation. A few of the comments are shared below:
“He once told me having a wife is like an investment, often saying I am considering your return ticket to Nigeria”.
“I used to think that my life is over, I used to think that no one would help me”
“My husband kept shouting to me that if I complained about him to someone, no one would believe me, and he would expel me from the country. That he has an English passport, and I'm nobody. I was afraid of him and didn't tell anyone”
“He would threaten to kick me out and tell me that I would have nowhere to go because I didn’t have any papers. He would use me as a slave in the house and If I complained he would tell me I had no choice, because I was here illegally.
I was mentally and emotionally tortured. I felt physically exhausted. I lived in fear.”
Previously, victims of domestic abuse with NRPF thought that seeking help would result in their information being shared with immigration authorities and could be used against them. Following the campaigning and awareness raising we have played a part in, we are delighted to see that one of the recommendations has been heard by the Victims Bill. This is to end victim data-sharing between the police and the Home Office and introduce a firewall! This is a huge step in the right direction.
You can read the full report here